Turkey to continue buying gas from Iran: minister

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ANKARA, TURKEY - JULY 17 : New Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey Fatih Donmez poses for a photo during an exclusive interview in Ankara, Turkey on July 17, 2018. Volkan Furuncu / Anadolu Agency

Turkey will continue buying natural gas from Iran under a contract that is due to expire in 2026, the Turkish energy minister said on Wednesday, according to the Hürriyet Daily news, a day after US President Donald Trump threatened that anyone trading with Iran will not do business with the United States.

Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said Turkey would continue to buy gas in line with its long-term supply deal with Tehran and added that planned talks in Washington could produce a solution for the issue.

Turkey is dependent on imports for almost all of its energy needs, and Iran is a key supplier of Ankara’s natural gas and oil purchases.

“A delegation of ours is in the United States right now, and negotiations are being held on a series of matters including the sanctions issue,” Dönmez told private broadcaster A Haber.

“I think a good outcome will emerge from this dialogue.”

A Turkish delegation is visiting Washington this week to discuss growing friction between the two NATO allies.

Dönmez said Turkey’s long-term supply contract with Iran was valid until 2026 and that Ankara was set to buy the 9.5 billion cubic meter contract amount.

“We will be continuing this trade as we cannot possibly leave our citizens in the dark,” he said, adding that Turkey and Iran, two neighboring countries, had trade ties that went back many years.

Nearly 40 percent of Turkey’s electricity production is sourced with natural gas.

Saying that the US sanctions on Iran were unilateral, Dönmez added: “We adopted the United Nations sanctions on Iran in the past. Even the European Union is extremely annoyed by today’s situation. We are conducting legitimate trade here, which is of great importance in terms of supply security,” he said.

The first wave of Iranian sanctions went into effect on Aug. 7 and targets mainly financial transactions and commercial airline sales with Iran. In November, measures to stop the sale of Iranian energy are set to go into effect.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has repeatedly ruled out complying with the US measures, insisting that Turkey is bound only by international agreements.

“We have told them we will not join these sanctions,” Çavuşoğlu said in July, in reference to a visit by US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea to Ankara the previous week.

“We buy oil from Iran and we purchase it in proper conditions. What is the other option?” Çavuşoğlu said Turkish authorities told the US delegation, as quoted by the Cumhuriyet daily on July 24 at a roundtable with journalists.

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